Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent; whether it's deciding to cut back on your favorite foods, or to become closer to God, it's a very important day for Catholics.
As the world awaits a new leader in the Catholic Church, Wednesday marked a meaningful holiday for its followers. "Lent is a penitential season and so the three devotional practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are sacrifices," Fr. Kevin McQuone said.
At St. Dominic Catholic Church in Panama City, Ash Wednesday was a call for action. As people waited their turn for ashes, they are asked to think about the ways they can build a stronger relationship with God.
During the 40 days and 40 nights before Easter, Catholics are reminded to embrace the important things in life, not materialistic things like houses, cars or even iPads. "We live in a very secular society that distracts us in so many directions, so we can be preoccupied. But since we are creatures of spirit, we have to stop and step back and look at the choices we are making," St. John's Catholic Church Pastor Roy Marien said.
Marien believes Lent is a powerful and spiritual experience, not one people should dread each year.
"It's not a negative experience. You know people who are in love, they go out of their way to express their love for someone; they are imaginative and creative. And that's what lent is; it's an opportunity of 40 days to be imaginative to show our love to God.
During Lent, many choose to give up things like coffee or soda, but as we learned on Wednesday, it's not about eliminating something that you'll go back to doing after the 40 days, it's about choosing something that will help you alter your life for the better.